AU Summit Brings Together Evangelists
Africa University’s summit participants with Global Ministries’ Mission and Evangelism executives George Howard (front row; grey suit) and Mande Muyombo (front row-right; blue suit).
Summit at Africa University Brings Evangelists Together From Around the World
By Sandra Brands, contributor to www.mission.org
African countries have their own cultures, their own way of worship and The General Board of Global Ministries, the mission arm of The United Methodist Church, is responding to the changing needs of the African church and its missional outreach.
In February, Global Ministries brought together evangelists from 28 African countries and 13 episcopal areas for a summit on evangelism at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe, to discuss how The United Methodist Church in Africa could continue to play a leading role in incorporating African cultural traditions and a holistic approach to mission.
“African leaders gathered at Africa University to share and discuss models and insights regarding the growth of the church in Africa,” said George Howard, Deputy General Secretary for Mission and Evangelism at Global Ministries.
Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area set the tone during the opening worship, ensuring the summit was grounded in the African experience, said Howard.
“Church leaders in Africa and the world can learn from the African experience of evangelism and church grow,” said the Rev. Mande Muyombo, Assistant General Secretary, Justice and Relationships. “For instance, every culture has its own way of worshipping. How do we integrate that into the Christian experience of worship.”
(L-R) Africa University Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa speaks with Rev. Adam Hamilton of Church of the Resurrection, and Larry Kies, Africa University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources staff member and Global Ministries missionary. Photo Courtesy Africa University
During the summit a new resource, “Evangelization and Church Growth in the African Context,” was launched. Global Ministries partnered with key African evangelists and The General Board of Discipleship to create the resource. Four of the eight African writers — including the Rev. Dr. John Wesley Kurewa, Vice Chancellor Emeritus of Africa University, and the Rev. Pierrette Ayite-Beugre — were also presenters at the summit.
The event was designed to equip evangelists and Africa University students and faculty members in evangelism and to begin development of a new theology of mission for The United Methodist Church in a changing Africa.
“Our older generation have remained with the old way of doing things,” said Professor John Kurerwa, Vice Chancellor Emeritus of Africa University. “We will fail to hold on to the younger generation if we fail to change. ... I want to try and bring Christianity together with African Life.”
“African independent churches are growing faster than mainline churches, including The United Methodist Church,” Muyombo said. “That’s because they integrate African culture into the Gospel.”
The summit provided leadership with resources necessary for strengthening the Wesleyan tradition and promoting a church that works for social transformation, he said.
“It was also an opportunity for African evangelists to share their experiences [and learn from one another],” Muyombo said. “We really wanted to stimulate African evangelism. We want them to continue to share their experiences, write their stories [of faith about evangelism].”
The Rev. Dr. John Wesley Kurewa, Vice Chancellor Emeritus of Africa University, during his presentation. Photo Courtesy Africa University
Keynote speakers and plenary session leaders include Professor Munashe Furusa, Vice Chancellor at Africa University; Kurewa; George Howard; the Rev. Cayce Stapp, Director of Mission Engagement at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan.; the Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at Church of the Resurrection; Professor Pamela Machakanja, Director of Africa University’s Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance; the Rev Paul Rasmussen, Senior Pastor of Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas; Muyombo; and Global Ministries Missionary Dr. Richmond Williams, Professor of Leadership Development at Africa University.
Topics discussed include making Christian worship relevant to African culture, connectional support for The United Methodist Church in Africa while remaining faithful to the Wesleyan Tradition and the global United Methodist Church; the need for commitment to evangelism; and the growth of the church in Africa and maintaining the denomination’s growth.